by David Safier
Twelve people who survived Tucson's January 8 shooting were among the 50 survivors of gun violence who attended a Senate committee hearing in D.C. to advocate for the passage of a bill to improve the system of background checks on people wanting to buy guns.
[The] Fix Gun Checks Act . . . would require a background check for every gun sale and facilitate getting into the federal background check system all mental health records that would prohibit gun ownership.
Patricia Maisch, who wrestled the gun clip away from Jared Loughner on January 8, spoke passionately to the committee about the need for the legislation. Chuck Grassley was more interested in his Blackberry than her testimony, and he was also more interested in discussing the Fast and Furious program than the legislation which was the subject of the hearing.
The Tucson group sent a letter to Grassley complaining about his lack of concern about the issue at hand, and his lack of common decency during Maisch's testimony.
We write to express our profound disappointment with your dismissive and political response to Patricia's testimony, your obvious disregard for the gun violence survivors in the room, and your apparent ignorance of the deadly serious issue we came to discuss with you.
Senator, we think it was inappropriate of you to immediately turn yesterday's hearing into a reason to ask questions about an unrelated inquiry on the controversy known as "Fast & Furious." We were not there to discuss Fast & Furious. The other witnesses were not there to discuss Fast and Furious. Our experiences have nothing to do with Fast and Furious. But you did not seem to care.
Rather than dealing with the subject of the hearing -- how the background check system can be improved to spare other families the pain that we have suffered -- you chose to employ a tactic of callous, cold and calculated distraction.
Senator, were you listening when Patricia told you about Dorothy Morris, Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, the Honorable John Roll of the United States District Court of Arizona, Gabe Zimmerman or Christina-Taylor Green? Nothing you had to say indicated you were. The fact that you were focused on your Blackberry during much of Patricia's testimony suggests you weren't. [...]
We ask that you apologize to the members of our group who lost loved ones in Tucson, and made the effort to come to Washington yesterday, but heard nothing of use from you.